BBC plans social networking site for radio
The BBC has unveiled plans to launch its own social networking site, bringing together listeners to its 10 national radio stations, in a move described by one of its developers as 'the radio service of tomorrow'.
The project, provisionally named Radio Pop, allows users to instantly access BBC radio stations online, log their favourite programmes and share their listening preferences with friends in their network.
The recommendation facility is similar to that used by music site Last FM, where users share their musical tastes and discover new artists by tapping into other users' preferences.
Radio Pop users can bookmark their favourite programmes using the "pop" button and share it with the rest of their network.
Users would also have access to a series of graphs showing which stations and shows they listen to the most, and what their friends are tuning in to.
The head of research and development in the BBC's Audio and Music Interactive department, Tristan Ferne, said Radio Pop would work "a bit like a supermarket loyalty card".
He said the project was still at the protoype stage, and the BBC was looking to team up with other broadcasting and technology partners to make it work.
Ferne said: "We've had a really good response to this. I guess this is partly because everyone can see how it is relevant, but also I suspect it's because it appeals to the inner geek in us all.
"Whether Radio Pop, or a similar concept, would appeal to the listening public remains to be seen."
The data gathered by the site would also allow the BBC to send targeted promotions to listeners and better analyse their radio listening habits.
The BBC -- like the commercial radio sector -- is currently reliant on quarterly radio listening figures from industry measurement body Rajar, a diary-based system which has frequently come under fire.
Radio Pop would give the BBC instant access to data detailing which programmes are popular and how listeners use word-of-mouth to recommend radio content to others.
The site is currently being tested by 90 people in the BBC -- and it is hoped the final product will become integrated with the BBC Radio Player.
Ferne said individual listening data would be made public by default, although users could opt to keep some of their information private.
The project follows the launch earlier this year of the BBC's Facebook application for radio, which Ferne said had been downloaded by 8,000 people.
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